Biophysical Society Newsletter | October 2017





These days, achieving work-life balance is still the most challeng- ing aspect of his career. When he does have leisure time, Dixit enjoys reading, cooking, and practicing taekwondo, which he does with his son. He admires and enjoys the work of Aldous Huxley — best known for his 1932 novel Brave

the two are collaborating again after obtaining a National Science Foundation (NSF) Science and Technology Center grant between University of Pennsylvania and Washington University. “We are working together on a microtubule-associated pro- tein (MAP) in plants, termed MAP65,” Goldman says. “We are doing the specialized fluorescence labeling and his colleague Matthew Lew will do sophisticated orientation-sensitive microscopy on the MAP-microtubule interaction.” “My postdoctoral work on the cytoskeleton steered me into combining cell biology and biophysics,” Dixit shares. Now, in his lab at Washington Uni- versity, he has done just that. “We use a combi- nation of genetics, cell biology, single-molecule biophysics, and computational modeling to study how multiple microtubule-associated proteins work together to shape the architecture of the mi- crotubule cytoskeleton. We are also interested in force-generating mechanisms within cells and how cells sense and respond to mechanical stimuli,” he says. “Currently, I am most excited about how mechanical stimuli affect molecular and cellular processes. I hope that our work under the aus- pices of the NSF-funded Center for Engineering Mechanobiology will elucidate how plants and animals sense and respond to mechanical perturba- tions at the molecular and cellular scales. My lab is particularly interested in understanding the role of the cytoskeleton in mechanosensing and mechano- transduction.” Getting his independent laboratory started and fully operational nearly ten years ago — while exciting — proved challenging, and made for a busy and stressful few years. “As scientists, we are not trained to manage people and finances, yet this is precisely what this job demands most. I was able to cope because of a lot of help from my fam- ily and mentors,” he says. “Watching my bench time shrink precipitously was also difficult for me. Thankfully, I was still able to do microscopy, which helped me stay sane and feel productive.”

Dixit in the lab.

New World — whose books he has read for many years. “He was a true visionary, a great writer and philosopher,” he says. “I was hooked on his books since my school days! They are very much relevant to our current times.” Dixit joined the society in 2011. “The Biophysical Society connects me to the wider biophysics com- munity, which helps me to learn about the most exciting current questions and about the latest tools and techniques,” he says. “I have particu- larly enjoyed being an editorial board member for Biophysical Journal . It allowed me to contribute to advancing my field and also boosted my career as a junior scientist.” “ Work on problems that truly excite you, because only then will you stay motivated when the going gets tough. ” Dixit advises early career scientists, “Work on problems that truly excite you, because only then will you stay motivated when the going gets tough. Find your niche where you can make an impact and seek out good collaborations that can enrich your research and provide you with a support network.”

Profilee-at-a-Glance Institution Washington University in St. Louis Area of Research Mechanisms underlying microtubule cytoskeleton dynamics and organization

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